Northern Ireland hospitals are ready to act FAST

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Stroke is a common cause of death and disability in Northern Ireland so the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people to ‘act FAST’ if they see someone having a stroke.

Dr Brid Farrell, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: “Stroke is an attack on the brain. It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die.

“If someone has a stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms and acting FAST can improve the chances of survival and reduce the level of disability that results from a stroke.”

• Face – Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

• Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

• Speech – Is their speech slurred?

• Time – Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs.

Dr Farrell continued: “If a person has stroke symptoms, when 999 is rung, they will be brought by ambulance to the nearest acute stroke centre.

“In Northern Ireland the clot-busting drug for suitable stroke patients is available in eight thrombolysing hospitals, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“These hospitals are: The Ulster Hospital, The Royal Victoria Hospital, Altnagelvin Area Hospital, South-West Acute Hospital, Daisy Hill Hospital, Craigavon Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital and Antrim Area Hospital.

“Stroke specialist care and rehabilitation is available on these sites. In some circumstances patients may be transferred to another hospital for further treatment or rehabilitation.

“The clot-busting drug is most effective if it is given soon after the stroke symptoms appear; therefore you need to act FAST if you see someone having a stroke.”

Your chances of having a stroke reduce if you understand the risks and take action to prevent a stroke happening. You can reduce your risk of having a stroke by:

• knowing and managing your personal risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol;

• exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight;

• reducing alcohol consumption;

• stopping smoking.

For further information on stroke see www.nichs.org.uk or www.stroke.org.uk